Golden Memories


http://www.teacherplus.org/golden-memories/

Sri Vidya Mandir turned 50 last year and this gave an opportunity for all those associated with the school to share their memories.

Housed in the heart of Malleswaram, the school has separate blocks for the primary section, middle school, and the high school and pre university sections, all located close to each other.

It is hard to believe that what started as a little school with three students, two teachers and a headmistress in a humble home now has more than 3000 students under its wings.

The story of Sri Vidya Mandir is inseparable from the woman who founded it. Leelavathi N, who started her career as a teacher in Madras, fell in love with the profession irreversibly. Marriage brought her to Bangalore and she pursued teaching in a local school. Her keen sense of value education coupled with an inherent love for children made her wonder if she could make a palpable difference in the field of education. The idea of running a school crossed her mind and started to take wings in 1969. Once the spade work was done, she associated with a couple of like-minded parents and formed an Education Society in 1970 and started a school with just three students.

“Making quality education available at affordable costs has been my guiding quotient from day one,” says Leelavathi better known as “Leela miss”. “While I have insisted on discipline, performance and accountability from my students, I have never turned a student away because he/she has not paid the fees,” says the octogenarian.

A couple of years later, owing to the growing numbers of students, Sri Vidya Mandir moved to a makeshift building – a cowshed, opposite the Venugopala Swamy temple in Malleswaram was leased to run the school. While this change gave Leela miss and her students more space, it also brought with it many obstacles and nagging problems. The temple authorities were divided on allowing the school to function in their premises. The dissenting members resorted to unpleasant measures to dislodge the growing institution. An individual with a weaker spirit would have succumbed to the pressure and threats but Leela miss decided to launch a legal battle to retain the space that had been leased out to her formally and legally. It is ironical to note that the lady who had never dreamt of anything except disseminating knowledge was constantly drawn into courtrooms to justify her decision to continue functioning in the new site despite obtaining permission from the concerned authorities. The long-drawn, ugly courtroom battle which went all the way to the Supreme Court, only strengthened Leela miss’ resolve to pursue her original dream of running a model school where she could mould young children into intelligent, responsible and productive citizens.

The school management, her loyal team of teachers and parents who had reposed their faith in her mission stood by her through her toughest moments. Eventually, her decision to fight for the school space proved to be the right one as Leela miss won her battle and became completely free to serve the society by providing quality education.

Once this major obstacle was overcome, there was no looking back. Though the school follows the state syllabus, the teachers ensure that the students have access to different kinds of resources to further their knowledge and are not limited just to the textbook. Chandrika Gowda, headmistress middle school, who has been with Sri Vidya Mandir for four and half decades, has been part of the school’s eventful journey as a well-loved and inspirational teacher. She says, “I do not allow my busy administrative schedule to come in the way of my classes. In fact, I try to conduct as many classes as possible because teaching opens up so many perceptions for both the teacher and the students.”

The school takes pride in creating exclusive workbooks for their kindergarten students every academic year, which lays a sound foundation for the learning years ahead of them. This exercise holds a mirror to the fact that the teaching faculty is willing to unlearn and relearn to upgrade their skills and help the children learn better.

Leela miss, with her able team has surged forth, rejuvenated, to add more feathers to the already established academic hat. Students of Sri Vidya Mandir enjoy equal time to study, play sports and participate in extracurricular activities. Gifted students are encouraged to pursue their talents and are given proper guidance and environment to do so. The students in turn bring their school more laurels individually and collectively.

The year 2000 was particularly special for the school when it presented a cultural program involving hundreds of their students on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyothsava or Karnataka formation day. The students had to practice separately at different venues due to space constraints before performing together on the prestigious occasion. All the pain taken was forgotten when the audience asked for an encore. The students’ performance was such a hit that they performed it on two more occasions on different stages.

This episode is a pointer towards the dedication reflected by the Kempegowda awardee (civilian award given by the Karnataka government) Leela miss and her teachers in whatever they do. The fact that the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school has several decades of service in the institution and have been awarded by both government and non-government bodies speaks for itself.

Sri Vidya Mandir has faced challenges and overcome obstacles to become the school it is today. Despite its success, Leela miss says, “We are happy and grateful to have come thus far but we can achieve more.”

The author is a professor of English and Sanskrit at Jain University, Bangalore. She also freelances for the print media, is a radio artist and writes scripts for television shows. She is also a proud student of Sri Vidya Mandir. She can be reached at prathi2000@rediffmail.com.

How do I Love Thee?


https://storymirror.com/read/story/english/6197erli/how-do-i-love-thee/detail

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.       

I have always wondered why a poetess like Elizabeth Browning would begin a romantic sonnet with the lines “How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.” Now I understand the emotion that underlines her seemingly mundane lines when I am trapped in a similar situation.

Recently I was asked to write about my experiences as a student at my school which will be turning fifty this year. I found myself fumbling for words even as I tried to encapsulate what Sri Vidya Mandir (That is the name of my school) means to me. When I first stepped into a sprawling house which was used as a school in the heart of verdant Malleswaram, in Namma Bengaluru, little did I know that it would become an integral part of my person and persona? I felt completely at home (pun intended) because we were just eight students in our batch and our teachers knew us like the palms of their hands.

There was never a dull moment at school, as we were constantly engaged in academics and extracurricular activities. The five years that I studied in this haloed place had a far reaching impact on my life. I don’t remember evaluating options when it came to deciding my primary career, it had to be teaching. My passion for languages, literature, social sciences, and the arts is nothing but the harvest of the seeds sown by my teachers out there. Perhaps that explains why I am still in touch with the teachers who inspired me. I met my friends for life on this campus. The list can go on.

 Despite being the recipient of such rich bounties that populate my life to this day, I do have a pet peeve. Exactly two years after I left school to pursue high school education elsewhere, my alma mater decided to launch its High School wing. I will always be left wondering about how my life could have been further upgraded if I had spent three more years under its wings.

Today, when the school is stepping into its golden jubilee year, I realise that tens and thousands of students must have emerged as fully-fledged, responsible individuals from this mother ship. The mere thought of it is enough to set me off on new innings of pride, gratitude, humility, and inspiration. Long live SVM!

Five-fold Formula For Success


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/oasis/defining-indian-management-788726.html

Which of us would not like to succeed and enjoy our name, fame, money and the status that comes along with it? The desire is but only natural and perfectly legitimate as long as we do not swerve from the path of truth and take to undesirable methods to achieve our goals. True, it is a tough proposition and sometimes it becomes very tempting for us to take up shortcuts to success. If we are under the impression that the said syndrome is the weakness of the human race alone, we must stand corrected.

The Markandeya Purana records a discord among the trinities on this count. Once it so happened that MahaVishnu and Brahma got into an unexpected argument. Each of them felt he was superior to the other. Shiva who was a witness to this altercation offered to find a solution to this issue. Accordingly, he metamorphosed into a linear flame and instructed the two discontented gods to find his beginning and the end. Brahma turned himself into a swan and flew upwards. Maha Vishnu bored into the bowels of the earth in the form of a tusked boar. Though both of them began zealously in right earnest, they were unable to reach their destination. After a considerable amount of effort and time, the two of them returned. Brahma said he had seen the tip of the Shiva Linga and handed over a Ketaki flower to lord Shiva saying that he found it on top of the Linga. MahaVishnu gracefully conceded that he could not fulfill his task.

Even as Brahma braced himself to be accolade for his achievement, lord Shiva pronounced a curse on the creator saying that he will not be included for idol worship on earth. He also vowed that he would not accept the Ketaki flower in his worship.

This tale holds a fivefold message that can be guiding forces to help us lead a successful life. We must steer clear of the one-upmanship game. Honesty is the best policy. There is no shame in accepting our shortcomings or failure. Faked success can burst like a bubble at any time and damage our self esteem and our image forever. The expanse of any subject is infinite like the supreme soul Shiva; we can explore it to the best of our ability but never gain complete access over it.

An Ode To The Radio


https://storymirror.com/read/story/english/eq9w6vkm/ode-to-the-radio/detail

Fatima a senior citizen remembers her teenage days which were spent in a heavily veiled paternal home. She studied in the local government girls school in fifteenth cross Malleswaram up to the fifth standard and knew a smattering of English and Kannada. Though she could not read much she remembers having a fondness for the Illustrated weekly of India which used to have blow ups in the center page. Though she could not read the magazine she remembers spending a good deal of time looking at the glossy pictures till the next weekly edition came along. Then she would save some pictures for her personal treasury and use some double sheets to wrap the books of her school-going siblings. Her only window to the world was aborted when she tied the knot early and left her paternal home at the tender age of fifteen. Her husband worked as a tinker in a garage and had a small transistor which gave him company for most of the day. Somehow the elders in the household did not encourage playing the radio at home for they thought it was a veritable distraction. Fatima distinctly remembers how she found ever so many excuses which were far and few to go to the garage which was only next door to her home to call her husband for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hope of listening to a snatch of a song.

It was after a span of two years and one child, her husband realized the claustrophobic existence his wife was leading and took the bold step of bringing the transistor home and allowing his wife to listen to Vividh Bharathi in the privacy of their room during late evenings. Even this small pleasure could not be savoured in full measure because Fatima had to attend to cooking dinner and various household chores. Yet she would drop into the room intermittently and catch up with whatever she could Just when she resigned herself to the life of a thorough homemaker without any window to the world, her husband’s penchant for listening to film music breezed some enthusiasm in her life. In spite of all the restrictions she worked out a way with the help of her husband to listen to the famous Binaca Geet Mala broadcast by radio Ceylon on Wednesdays. Each Wednesday she would come up with a creative idea to keep her rendezvous with Ameen Sayani even if only for ten or fifteen minutes for the next few years. Then she would spend the rest of the week trying to associate some of the names he dropped over the show with the pictures at random she had seen long ago.

Today her home is filled with electronic gadgets, she has ready access to all varieties of media and absolutely no restrictions laid by her family members but they do not appeal to her anymore. Her zeal for film music has dwindled over the years. She admits that whenever she hears the strains of some old melody which she managed to listen to crossing great obstacles bring back a flood of memories in her which leave her cheeks wet.

 

The Osmosis of Life


Published in Today’s Deccan Herald

http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com

How often have we been told that God is One. It does not really matter which religion we profess, because ultimately we hope to realize the Truth that has the world functioning the way it is. Every religion aims at establishing peace and harmony in the universe using the same key ingredients. All streams of theology swear by the power of truth and compassion and urges man to become better than himself morally to attain spiritual fulfillment.

The Keshava Smrithi, clearly states that, just like rain water reaches the sea one way or another, so also the obeisance rendered to various gods reach Keshava. In other words, the import of the Shloka highlights the fact that there is only one God, no matter what we call him. While comparing prayers to rain water, the couplet gently points out the scientific principle of how the waters of the oceans evaporate, form clouds and precipitate as rains. The rain in turn contributes to the various water bodies on earth eventually flows back to the sea. So also, we could be worshipping the supreme power in many different ways. Yet the spirit of prayer, the intensity of faith and the awe we have for the almighty is the same. If our appeals are fervent and sincere we do not have to worry about the method for our prayers will surely be answered in one way or another.

When we analyze the idea pragmatically, it still makes sense. We know that water finds its own level. The concept of osmosis has proved the theory of equalization. Water helps life of all genres to emerge, evolve and sustain no matter how large, deep or pure it may be.

It is interesting to note that the very practical osmotic process has a very lofty philosophical connotation. If people understand that the underlying principle of every way of life is essentially the same, we can thrive in an integrated way despite the vast diversity.

 

 

Facing Rain Challenges


Published in the Student Editon of Deccan Herald

We have been having erratic spells of rains this year. It is pouring cats and dogs at times, flooding our streets and sometimes our homes. And then as in all things the side effects follow. First of all there is a cut in electricity supply, elsewhere surging currents cause short circuits. Then old trees fall, sometimes old buildings give way. Storm water drains overflow, sewage pipes clog, potholes open up further causing incidental accidents. Television channels repetitively show gushing waters throwing entire cities, towns, villages, fields and roads out of gear even as the common man strives to get back to normalcy. Once the rains subside and the waters recede, illnesses take toll of men and animals alike. Mosquitoes breed and add to the chaos. These events have become a regular feature for a couple of years now. All the modern technology and scientific knowhow wring their hands helplessly, unable to help us out of the mess.

That was a verbal description of what all of us in the subcontinent are aware of. The reason why it has been narrated here is to help us understand the problem and find a permanent solution for it.

It is apparent that we are one too many people sharing space and amenities. All the same we cannot reduce the population immediately. The shared amenities can be multiplied, but that will also take time. There is hardly any space through which mother earth can absorb the rain waters to replenish her water table, but rainwater harvesting is quite an exercise and can be best done only in summer. Old buildings and roads can be repaired, but cannot be done right now. So you might be wondering what could be the point in discussing about things which cannot provide immediate relief.

For those of you who do not know it already, here is the story of the ant and the grasshopper. The two friends could not really see eye to eye about playtime. The grasshopper wanted to enjoy his summer to the maximum possible extent while the ant wanted to collect food and store them for a rainy day. Since the two of them agreed to disagree they went about doing their own thing. The grasshopper enjoyed himself thoroughly. The ant on the other hand scouted for food, picked it up and carried it to his nest. Soon summer flit past. It started to drizzle and gained momentum as heavy rains in the coming months. The two insects had nothing to do except stay back at home. While the ant and his extended family helped themselves to the stored food, the grasshopper almost died of starvation. There is a strong message in this story for those of us who care to identify it.

Spells of rain can cast a magical spell on our earth and evoke the poets in us. On the other hand rains can spell hell on earth especially in overcrowded and unplanned urban space. It appears that the rainy seasons of the past years have not taught us much, because we have still not been able to overcome the sudden chaos that is turned loose on us once the skies decide to open up. The reason for this is we have been behaving like grasshoppers hoping to cross bridges as and when we come across them. It is high time we start behaving like the ant and prepare ourselves for a rainy day. We can look around our homes, office and school spaces and make a list of all the things that need to be set right. Then we must start working on it at the earliest opportunity both individually and collectively. It is only then we can live peacefully and enjoy the rains at least next year!

 

 

Perceive with Sensitivity and Sensibility


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

War can only precipitate two things in any age and place – death and destruction. When two mighty powers are at loggerheads with each other the lives of the innocent are at stake, no matter to which camp they belong to. Besides appearances can be deceptive and so can perceptions about ideologies.

The third act of the play Veni Samharam written by Bhatta Narayana has a very thought provoking prelude which discusses this syndrome peculiar to human beings. The dramatist employs irony to show the cruelty and the futility of war. Rudhirapriya and Vasagandha, the demon couple, have a very domestic conversation, revolving around the war of Kurukshetra where they discuss about storing the blood and flesh of great warriors who died on either side which will save them the trouble from scavenging for food in the coming months. Though the talk appears to be insensitive and gruesome, a little observation reveals that the conversation of the couple is only reflecting their natural state of mind whereas the fighters on the battlefield, trained and heroic men were behaving like barbarians killing one another in the name of war.

The sensitivity of the so called insensitive trolls  is highlighted further when they point out how the bereaved mother Hidimba who lost her only son Ghatotkacha was consoling Subhadra who happened to be sailing on the same boat  having lost her only son Abhimanyu. The ability of the Rakshasas to empathise the sorrow of the grief stricken mothers impartially speaks in volumes about their compassion, a quality rarely attributed to their kind. It is the author’s subtle way of saying that any war finally punishes doting and affectionate mothers who may send their sons to war voluntarily or otherwise. No one can efface the scorched souls of the kith and kin of the dead heroes who face the brutal brunt of war.

When we perceive with sensibility and sensitivity we  will not only realise about the futility of war but also understand that popular perceptions about typecasting and role play may not always be spot on.